Bolt moves one step closer to legend with Olympic record-breaking run
00:03 GMT, 6 August 2012
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If only he could start. If only he did not party until 5am. If only he was not 95 per cent fit. If only he did not guzzle chicken nuggets.
Just think how good Usain Bolt could be.
But, really, what a performance we witnessed as the world’s most elusive man returned to being the world’s fastest man.
The questions had assailed him across the year and across the globe. He pulled out of competitions, he was in a car crash, he visited his doctor in Germany for magic potions to soothe his back-related injuries, he did not race his training partner and chief rival Yohan Blake other than when he had to — at the Jamaican trials — where he lost.
Close call: Usain Bolt did not run away with the race as he had done four years ago in Beijing, with Blake, Gatlin and Gay all running super quick times
Here he was back to something approaching his best. His time of 9.63sec was faster than he ran in Beijing four years ago (9.69sec), when his superiority was so great that he launched a mid-race chest-thumping celebration that beguiled the world, if not the IOC president, who thought it disrespectful.
On Sunday he pushed all the way. Yes, he had strolled to the final. But once he got to the start of the big one — 9.50pm London time — he left nothing to chance.
His start was not brilliant but his technique held together. His face told of total application and, given all Bolt’s natural long-striding gifts, it was enough.
‘You guys doubted me and I’ve shown the world that I am the greatest,’ he said. ‘The last 50 metres is where I shine, so I just did that.
‘I’m not concerned by what people
have said. I’ve said it from the start: people can talk. All they can do
is talk. When it comes to the championships, it’s all about business to
me — and I brought it home.’
Bolt’s victory was precisely the
result that athletics needed. He is the star turn, the cavorting
highwire act who reaches out to all ages and colours.
Simply the best: Bolt still crossed the line with daylight between him and the rest
With respect to Blake, the silver medallist, he does not possess the magnetism of Bolt.
As for Justin Gatlin, the bronze
medallist, a victory for him would have represented a desperately low
point in these celebratory Games given his drug-taking habits.
As everyone left the stadium
yesterday — other than us scribblers and a group who hung on to cheer
Bolt’s name — our great former decathlete Daley Thompson’s voice spoke
out, encouraging parents to help their kids take up sport.
It is that near-exhausted word
‘legacy’ that Thompson was addressing. What happens in this stadium will
beget the next generation of our athletes. And no single foot racer
can do more worldwide towards that ideal than the gallivanting hero of
Yes, it will take schools and clubs
to make themselves available to accommodate newcomers to their ranks,
but the first requirement is for kids to be inspired by Bolt and his
We all cherish our Olympic memories
from childhood and are thankful for the nourishment, health-wise and
culturally, that they have given us.
The one hope, which Bolt has
addressed, is that athletics would wither if he fell under suspicion of
drug-taking. He has never failed a test and until he does, should it
ever come, we must celebrate him as a beacon of hope for sport.
Trademark: Bolt strikes his usual pose for the cameras after winning the 100m final in London
Mummy's boy: The sprinter's mother Jennifer and silver medallist Blake join the celebrations
That sentiment chimes with the
feelgood mood of these Games. You go on to a Tube and people speak to
each other. Yes, on the London Underground with its tradition of blank
faces and averted stares. The stadium roar registers high on the decibel
It reached its zenith on Saturday
night with the cacophony that cheered on Mo Farah to his 10,000m win,
just after Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis had started the athletics
In terms of electrifying capacity,
last night’s race may not have equalled Ben Johnson’s epoch-making run
in Seoul in 1988, before the race was discredited as the most infamously
dirty track deed of all time, or of Bolt’s Beijing pyrotechnics.
It was though, still the fastest race
ever, Olympic or otherwise. Seven of the finalists went under 10sec,
with only Asafa Powell, who pulled up, spoiling the single-figure
‘It was wonderful,’ said Bolt of the
atmosphere. ‘I knew it was going to be like this. There wasn’t a doubt
in my mind that it was going to be loud and it was going to be great.
You can feel that energy, so I feel extremely good and I’m happy.
‘This win means I’m one step closer to being a legend. I have the 200m to go.’
As everyone in the stadium
recognised, his status as the presiding genius of the sprinting world
is not in doubt. He just had to show up and prove the point in the blink
of an eye.